In 2014, 19-year-old Scott Wright Jr. was shot during a Fourth of July party at the Town & Country Apartments complex on Roberts Street in Binghamton, days after his high school graduation. He died from his injuries three days later.
Neither Wright nor his killer, Andre Lee, lived at the apartments, but the crime’s setting prompted a lengthy safety review by the City of Binghamton.
At the time, citing numerous police responses to the 8.5-acre complex and code violations, Binghamton Mayor Richard David called the complex “a magnet for criminal activity.”
On Friday, he announced a $38 million plan to purchase and renovate Town & Country Apartments with real estate development company JE Properties, a project David said would “transform perhaps the most troubled apartment complex in Binghamton into a safe, stable and affordable place for residents to raise their families and the North Side to take pride in.”
Safety concerns at Town & Country
Andre Lee was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison for Scott Wright’s death. In light of the crime, residents at the complex, which has 253 units in 22 buildings, started a community discussion about safety concerns there.
More: MURDER PENALTY: Lee gets 25 years to life for ‘senseless’ killing
Between 2008 and 2014, Binghamton officials said city police had responded to 1,545 calls at Town & Country Apartments. At the time, the complex also was facing 20 code violations, including missing fire extinguishers, broken exit lights and a lack of smoke detectors in some buildings.
The city increased its police presence at the complex by making it a larger focus of the Community Response Team, which targets “trouble spots” in the city, and a priority of other officers nearby when possible. Renovations and improvements also were madeto address the violations.
‘Positive change to this property’
Now the city plans to completely renovate the complex under new management “to invest in quality, affordable housing and bring positive change to this property and neighborhood,” David said.
Details of the renovation project include:
- Exterior updates including fencing, a gate, lighting and security measures.
- New roofs and a repaired drainage system.
- New boilers and energy-efficient upgrades.
- New accessible units.
- Updated kitchens with new appliances, fixtures, countertops and cabinets.
- Updated bathrooms.
- New flooring, paint and unit lighting.
- New windows and window treatments.
- Washing the existing brick facade.
- Updated laundry rooms.
- New landscaping, signage, postal boxes and dumpster enclosures.
JE Properties, which directed a $200 million Sibley Square mixed-use apartment complex project in Rochester, has applied for low-income housing tax credits to support the project and keep the units’ cost to residents affordable through New York State Homes and Community Renewal’s Housing Finance Agency.
They’ll also apply for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with The Agency and City of Binghamton.
“The work the mayor and city have done revitalizing downtown about a half-mile from Town & Country along with the continued commitment to remove blight on the North Side gave us the confidence to invest in this project,” said Joseph Eddy, president of JE Properties. “We’re looking forward to providing vastly improved, safe, affordable, quality housing for over 500 residents.”
Officials said no residents currently living at Town & Country Apartments, many who are rent burdened and receive rent subsidies, will be permanently displaced due to the renovation.
Published in PressConnects July 12, 2019